It's been a kick for Sean

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

The worst kept secret is now officially out of the bag.

Sean Fleming will retire at the end of this season from the Edmonton Eskimos.

The punter/kicker didn't plan on making the announcement at last night's annual team dinner, but it came out during an on-stage discussion.

"I was kind of put on the spot up there," said Fleming, referring to constant questioning by the TSN panel.

"It is not what I had envisioned. I don't think it comes as a surprise to anybody, although I was trying to orchestrate my terms. It wasn't going to be this week. It was mostly likely going to be next week or after the season."

Fleming wanted to have former team executive Hugh Campbell present for the announcement.

Campbell didn't attend last night's dinner.

Fleming will leave the Eskimos after 16 seasons as the club's all-time leader in points (2,554), field goals, converts, punts, punt yardage and kickoff yardage.

At the beginning of the year, Fleming hinted this would most likely be his final season, leaving the sport to concentrate on his job at pricewaterhousecoopers.

First-round raft pick Warren Kean is now the leading candidate to fill Fleming's huge shoes next year. Fleming revealed last night that the Eskimos did approach him about coming back for the 2008 season.

"I talked to Danny (Maciocia) about it last week," said Fleming. "I know they want me back.

"I told him I would consider - unfortunately now, I guess I told him what my plans are tonight. Again, that wasn't the plan."

As part of the entertainment last night, the Eskimos had the TSN panel - Dave Randorf and crew - talk to Fleming in front of the crowd.

With the announcement, Fleming will likely have one more home game at Commonwealth Stadium - Oct. 26 against Saskatchewan.

Providing there isn't some sort of miracle, his final season won't include a trip to the playoffs.

But he played in five Grey Cup games and lists the 2005 championship game as one of his career highlights.

A CFL all-star twice, the 37-year-old B.C. native returns to Vancouver for Saturday's game against the Lions.

FINISH LINES: Fleming has left the door open to be an emergency replacement in 2008 or beyond for the Green and Gold.

"If they need me for an emergency game where Warren or whoever is kicking break his leg, I can see me coming in," he remarked.

"But I don't think I can afford playing another football season. I think it will hurt my career outside (the game).

"I have to move on and focus on that or I won't be in that career."


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